ARLINGTON -- Andrew Benintendi had already helped set up Saturday night's 6-5, come-from-behind victory by the Red Sox over the Rangers with some of the softest contact imaginable. And perhaps getting a couple of breaks helped him get some of his confidence back amid what has been a cold start
ARLINGTON -- Andrew Benintendi had already helped set up Saturday night's 6-5, come-from-behind victory by the Red Sox over the Rangers with some of the softest contact imaginable. And perhaps getting a couple of breaks helped him get some of his confidence back amid what has been a cold start to the season for the young outfielder.
When Benintendi dug in for his final at-bat in the ninth inning, he came through with his sweetest swing of the night, a triple off the fence in right that was just a couple feet from being a home run. Hanley Ramirez drove him in with a sacrifice fly, and the Red Sox had the lead for the first time all night.
"I was out in front of that curveball and the ball carries here like crazy, so I thought it might have a chance," said Benintendi. "But once it hit the wall, my thought was to get to third and hopefully [get] a sac fly or something, and Hanley got the job done."
Craig Kimbrel protected the lead with a scoreless ninth for his 300th career save, and Boston had a win that included a little bit of everything.
"That was a great team win," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
It was a grind to get back into the game for the Red Sox, who withstood a long homer by Joey Gallo and a three-run shot by Delino DeShields to fall into a 4-1 hole. Gallo would later hit another homer to make it 5-3 in the sixth.
The turning point was the seventh inning, when Benintendi was also in the middle of the action, hitting a bloop (exit velocity of 62 mph) over shortstop Jurickson Profar's head and into short left. The 174-foot hit wound up being a double, as Benintendi sprinted at the crack of the bat.
The alert Mookie Betts roared from first to third, then stopped. But when he suspected Profar would try to make a play at second, Betts prepared to put on the accelerator. That's exactly what he did when Profar nonchalantly looked at second but double-clutched. At that point, Betts took off and Profar threw home. Betts was safe on a head-first slide and the Sox were down by just one, 5-4.
"I mean, I know Mookie does that stuff a lot. I had a feeling. It's weird, as I was rounding second, I saw him kind of hesitate, and then [Profar] didn't make a throw anywhere, and Mookie took off. He's done that a few times before," Benintendi said. "So I wasn't surprised at all."
After the comeback came the escape. When Shin-Soo Choo hit a double to left in the eighth inning, the Rangers had runners at second and third and nobody out. With the bases loaded and one out, Cora went to righty Joe Kelly, who came through in a big way. Kelly struck out Gallo on a 98.1 mph fastball.
Then came the at-bat of the game. Kelly and Profar went at it for 11 pitches, with the Red Sox reliever coming out on top on a called third strike.
"That at-bat against Profar, he fouled off sliders and changeups and fastballs, and at 3-2, just keep pounding the strike zone with quality stuff," said Cora.
Through the first five innings, the only run scored by the Red Sox came when Benintendi hit a 55-mph grounder that hit the second-base bag for an RBI single.
"I'll take anything I can get right now. For me especially, just trying to get into a groove and find my swing, so maybe that will help get me going," said Benintendi, who raised his average 14 points to .254 with his 3-for-5 performance.
The win allowed the 24-9 Red Sox to maintain their one-game lead over the scorching-hot Yankees in the American League East.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Moreland shot gives Red Sox life: Moreland has worn out the Rangers since departing them to join the Red Sox. His two-run homer to right, which deflected off the glove of Choo, hit off the top of the fence then went over it, slimmed the deficit to 4-3 in the top of the sixth. In 20 at-bats against the Rangers over the past two seasons, Moreland is 11-for-20. He continues to contribute just about every time Cora puts him in the lineup. Moreland is hitting .338 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 68 at-bats this season.
Kimbrel became the fastest pitcher in history to reach 300 saves by appearances (494), save opportunities (330) and age (29).
HE SAID IT
"He didn't hit a home run today, so a lot of people were disappointed, I guess. He changes the game in many aspects. Defensively, offensively, running the bases, in the dugout. He's becoming one of the best players in the league." -- Cora, on Betts
The Red Sox send ace Chris Sale to the mound for Sunday's finale of the four-game series in Texas. Though the lefty has just two wins in his first seven starts, he has given up three earned runs or fewer in all of them. In three career starts at Texas, Sale is 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA. Doug Fister, who started 15 games for the Red Sox in 2017, gets the start for the Rangers.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.